Cultural diversity was on display at the League Education and Treatment Center (LETC) Wednesday. Flags from countries as diverse as South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Japan waved throughout the corridor as students, dressed in colorful costumes representing each country, marched to the cheers of their families.
It was the LETC’s annual Multi-Cultural Day – an event for students enrolled in the Center’s preschool program and their families.
Started more than 50 years ago, the LETC was the first day-treatment program in the country for autistic children, and is now the model for similar programs around the world. The League educates and treats over 300 at-risk, underserved children and adults from throughout Brooklyn – with no cost to families.
“Regardless of where we’re from we all come together at the League,” said Stacey Chizzik, who has been the director of the preschool program since 1990. “We represent different countries and bring our varied strengths together at the league.”
The students’ parade, which was called the Parade of Nations, was followed by students performing skits, and song and dance routines in each of the 15 classrooms at the Preschool.
Parents sat along the back as students in each classroom performed based on country the classroom had chosen to represent – one of the classrooms did a fan dance from China, another did a performance of Shakira’s song “Waka Waka,” representing the culture of South Africa.
“It has been beautiful seeing my son sing and perform with other kids and be so active,” said Sheavon Anderson, the parent of 4-year-old Kaden Sutton, who is set to graduate the preschool this year. “I’ve seen him come a long way here. He’s gone from not wanting to talk to anyone to being outspoken.”
Performances were followed by a buffet lunch brought in by parents, a sort of potluck, representing each family’s cultures and traditions.
The preschool program is open to kids 3 to 5 years old. Titled the Joan Fenichel Therapeutic Nursery, the preschool program offers services including psychiatric diagnosis and consultation, play therapy, social skills training, as well as speech/language occupational and physical therapy.
“At the League, we are constantly trying to bring out the gifts in each of the children enrolled here,” said Hannah Achtenberg Kinn, the program’s CEO, who has been working with the organization for over 30 years. “We work toward awakening the strengths in each of them.”
For future events and more information on the League Center visit http://www.leaguecenter.org